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Thermaltake's Shark ATX enclosure

This one doesn't bite

Manufacturer Thermaltake
Model Shark
Price (street)
Availability Now

ALTHOUGH THEIR small size and light weight make them ideal for LAN gamers, small form factor systems lack the expansion capacity of full ATX systems. For those who desire multiple PCI slots, hard drives, or even graphics cards, ATX towers are the only way to go. Thermaltake's Shark aluminum ATX case attempts to blend light weight with plentiful expansion potential.

On paper, it looks like the Shark delivers. The Atkins Diet has trimmed the case's weight down to just 14 pounds, and the Shark offers loads of both internal and external drive bays. With dual 120mm fans to keep things cool and a thoughtfully laid out interior, the Shark could be easy to live with and a joy to work on, but is it really all that? Read on to find out.

What does a Shark look like?
Measuring in at 21" tall, 20" deep, and 8" wide, the Shark is quite a bit bigger than a small form factor system. However, even though it would tower over a cube, the Shark is only a few inches taller than most mid-tower enclosures and much smaller than typical full-tower cases. The Shark's extra height gives it more room for 5.25" drive bays than most mid-towers without all the full-tower bulk.

Thermaltake makes the Shark available in either black or silver; as you can see, we've tested a black one. Finish-wise, the Shark's aluminum side and top panels are coated with a plain black paint that resembles high-heat automotive engine paint. The front bezel is molded black plastic, but its color doesn't match the painted side panels exactly. The bezel's color doesn't match the aluminum front door's gorgeous black anodized finish, either. For a high-end case like the Shark, it would have been nice to have a consistent shade of black throughout.

In black, the Shark sports a less radical look than some of Thermaltake's other offerings. I don’t mind the aesthetic, which is a little more daring than demure cases like Antec's Sonata, but there's no accounting for taste.

The Shark's aluminum door hides five 5.25” and two 3.5” external drive bays, preventing beige drives from throwing off the all-black look. Unfortunately, the case's front intake is also hidden behind the door, so the door could severely hinder air flow when closed. Behind that intake sits a standard 120mm fan that Thermaltake claims produces only 21 dBA of noise at 1400 RPM. A filter is mounted directly on the fan, but the entire front bezel must be removed to gain access to it, because the fan sits between the case and the bezel. Most intake fans reside inside the case, making them easier to access.

Unlike the plethora of Chenming-based cases with plastic doors, the Shark's aluminum front door hangs on sturdy metal hinges that should keep the door from breaking off. The front door also locks to prevent unwanted intrusion or usage.